Bahrain: Children victims of physical & sexual abuse, abduction, arbitrary detention & unfair trial
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is following with grave concern the serious deterioration of security that comes within the framework of the ongoing crackdown launched by the authority against political activists and human rights defenders as well as all the Shiite villages and areas. The Center is also concerned about its impact and reflection on the human rights situation in the country, particularly in relevance to children. Children were part of the victims of this campaign which included the widespread waves of arbitrary arrests, continuous kidnappings, enforced disappearances, torture which is physical, psychological and sexual.
It is believed that the National Security Apparatus is responsible for most of these cases, as well as the continuous physical assaults on the children of Bahraini villages by the Special Forces that are made up of foreign mercenaries. There are 76 children among the detainees from the latest security crackdown, which puts them at 21% of the total detainees, whose numbers swelled to 355. This raises concerns about the fate and future of these children who as a result of these conditions are deprived of their education, and an uncertain future which awaits them just like the hundreds of children, who were deprived from schooling and university education during the period of events prompted the dissolving of parliament in the nineties of the last century.
While Bahraini law prohibits those who are less than twenty-one years of the right to participate in the election on grounds of how young they are, which limits their ability to make sound and correct decisions. At the same time, the authorities hold children, who have reached the age of fifteen, full criminal responsibility and like adults they take full responsibility.
Children are the victims of arbitrary attacks on villages and the policy of collective punishment:
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has received many complaints from families of victims of the attacks and the policy of collective punishment of the villages of Bahrain during the latest security campaign. The Special Forces attack random people, especially children, many of were seriously injured due to excessive use of force, rubber bullets and tear gas,. The latest report of these cases was the abuse by those forces in the November 3, 2010 on the child, Ali Abbas Radhi (14 years) from the AlDaih village. The father of the child informed the Bahrain Center for Human Rights that he had sent his son to buy some necessities, only to be surprised when he returned after minutes; his pale face stained with blood, his clothes dusty, and a wound in his head. He also had fractures in his leg and injuries in different parts of his body. The child victim, Ali Abbas, told the center that "the riot police asked me to stop so I obeyed their orders, but a group of them pointed their weapons towards me which made me panic and try to flee in fear of getting killed. The riot police chased me until they caught me, and they assaulted by beating me and kicking me with their boots or with the butts of their guns to my head and all over my body as well as cursing and insulting the members of my family dirty words." There were no confrontations or security disturbances at time of the attack which required the presence of these forces in that area. It is believed that this attack is one of the many random attacks carried out by these forces to spread panic and fear among the villages of Bahrain and especially among children and youth in order to intimidate them from participating in any acts of protest.
Marks of beating on Abbas AlFuraikh’s head and body
In another incident that took place on Friday evening, October 29, 2010, three Bahraini children , two of them 9-year-olds and a 6 year old girl, were wounded with several shrapnel injuries due to the firing of the weapon hunting (shotgun) as well as rubber bullets fired at them by members of the riot police while they were playing in the garden near their house. This took place at the time when there were some protests in the village, and the children had to be taken to the Salmaniya Medical Center for treatment.
The shotgun injuries on one of the children
On the 3rd of January, 2010, there was an attack on the child Fatima Mirza (13 years)  when the Special Forces surrounded AlDair village, south of Bahrain International Airport and entered the village with the excessive use of tear gas and rubber bullets. Fatima Mirza was subjected to severe wounds to the face, chest and feet as a result of shattered glass in the house due to rubber bullets and sound bombs shot by the security forces directly at the window of the room she was in.
Pictures of Fatima before and after the incident
Children vulnerable to abductions, enforced disappearances, torture and sexual abuse
“For the purposes of this Convention, "enforced disappearance" is considered to be the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.” - Article 2 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
Since the beginning of the crackdown last August which was led by the National Security Apparatus, many children have been subjected to abduction, enforced disappearance, torture and sexual harassment. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights received a number of complaints on cases of abductions and enforced disappearance of children which were carried through by groups of armed militia wearing civilian clothes who roam Shiite villages which witness unrests. These militias kidnap children from the streets, most of who are then subjected to enforced disappearance for periods ranging from several hours to several days in secret centers. They are taken to these centers after they are blindfolded, and during which they are tortured, severely beaten, and stripped naked, sexually harassed and photographed naked. They are then thrown wearing only their underwear in areas far from where they live.
Among the victims of these abductions  of children are Ahmed Ibrahim (15 years), Ali Jaffer Aradi (15 years), Jasim Ahmed Habib (16 years), and Ali Ibrahim (17 years) who were all abducted on the 15th of last August from the village of Arad. They were tortured and then dumped naked in the dawn of the next day at one of the country's coasts. A video was delivered to the center which shows the children walking half naked towards their families’ car who came to pick them up after the children contacted them informing them of what had happened to them and where they were.
The child Mustafa Ahmed (16 years) was abducted on the 26th of August from Al Nuwaidrat when he was leaving the mosque on his way to his grandfather's house. He was tortured using a blunt instrument before he managed to escape from his kidnappers .
Pictures of victims of kidnappings
Most of these families have filed complaints to the relevant police centers  demanding an investigation in the attacks against their children and that those responsible be held accountable. There have not been any actual actions implemented to detect the perpetrators and hold them accountable, despite the fact that there have been several complaints of similar previous incidents. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has reason to believe that this targeting of children through kidnapping and torture in this brutal way aims to scare parents and the resident of the villages. This also aims to force activists in those areas to stop their continuous activism through demonstrations and protests in Shiite villages which have been ongoing for several years due to the systematic marginalization and isolation carried out by the Bahraini authorities on all levels of political, social, cultural, educational and housing. Article I of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance states that: “1. No one shall be subjected to enforced disappearance. 2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance”.
Children are victims of arbitrary arrests and unfair trials and torture in places of detention:
States must ensure that "No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time". - Paragraph b of Article 37, Convention on the Rights of the Child
Since the security crackdown began last August and following the increase in human rights violations resulting from this campaign, several children were arbitrarily arrested, and some underwent unfair trials. Until now, the number of detained children has reached 76, whom are under the age of eighteen years. They account for up to 21% of the total number of detainees in the recent security events. This rate far exceeds those of the prisons in countries suffering from disturbances such as occupied Palestine (children make up 3.7% of total prisoners)  and Iraq (children make up 3% of the total detainees) . This reflects the severity of the latest security crackdown and arbitrary arrests against the most vulnerable group of people in society. Many of these children are still in detention charged with issues mostly related to protests, demonstrations and burning tires which the authorities claim these children were involved in implementing. Amongst the youngest of the children detained are Mohamed Ali Hassan and Ayman Jaffar (both 12 years old) who are accused of manufacturing and possession of explosive flammables, a charge that is not compatible these children’s abilities and age.
The children Mohammed Ali Hassan and Ayman Jaffar during the court session
The youngest child arrested is Jihad Aqeel AlSari (10 years), who was arrested on the eve of the Universal Children's Day, November 19, 2010. This came after the family had received a call that Jihad was to go to the Police Ceter, which he refused to do fearing for his life. His family believes that the reason for his arrest is to put pressure on his father, the Shiite cleric Mr. Aqeel AlSari who is a detainee accused of participating in what is known as the “terrorism network”, especially after speaking before the Court on October 28th about how he was tortured in detention.
The child Jihad Aqeel AlSari (10 years old), youngest detainee
Parents are usually not officially informed of the reason for the arrest of their child, as the arrest is often denied for several days after disappearance. Parents of detained children have also suffered from the prevention of visiting their children and their inability to check on their safety .
Parents attempted to provide assurances and guarantees for the release of their children in order for them to complete their studies and exams, and guaranteed to bring them to court on the assigned hearing dates. In addition, there were requests from the lawyers  to release these children under any guarantees required because they are young, especially as some of them have already spent more than two months in detention until now. None of these attempts or requests have had any results.
Tens of children between the age of 15 and 18 are being held in criminal detention centers  with adult prisoners accused of criminal offenses like drug trafficking. This contrasts with the international standards as recommended by the UN Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary Detention, in the report issued in 2001 after his visit to Bahrain concerning the need to separate juveniles from adults in detention. This recommendation has not been implemented so far. As a result to the length of the period of detention in detention centers, some of these children are suffering from serious psychological trauma and have stopped eating .
Despite that some of these detained children have been subjected to serious wounds and injuries due to being targeted by the riot police by use of the bird shotgun; they are usually transferred to detention centers before the completion of treatment in the hospital, one of these children is Ali Abbas Ali (17 years) from the AlDair village .
The UN Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary Detention visited Bahrain in a fact-finding mission in 2001 and recommended the transfer of detention centers for children to the Ministry of Social Development, and a decision was issued by the Council of Ministers on December 4th, 2005 for the transfer to the Ministry of Social Development, but that this UN recommendation and the Council of Ministers decision have yet to be implemented even after several years of their issuance. All juvenile detention centers are run by the Ministry of Interior rather than the Ministry of Social Development.
Torture of children in Bahrain prisons
It is the responsibility of the state to ensure that "No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age" - paragraph (A) of Article 37, Convention on the Rights of the Child
The lawyer Balqis AlManami informed the Bahrain Center for Human Rights that the two children, Jaafar Ali Ashour (12 years) and Faisal Hassan Isa (14 years) both told the judge that they were tortured to coerce confessions to charges they did not commit. They stated that the women police in the juvenile prison cursed them and insulted their beliefs. They also beat them and poured cold water on their bodies, which sparked panic in them. Among these children were Mohamed Ahmed Salman Aljubailat (16 years), Mohamed Ali Hassan (12), and Mahmood Abbas AlAradi (17 years), who suffers from a mental disorder but is still being held despite the presence of a medical certificate certifying his disorder.
Medical certificate clarifying Mahmood AlAradi’s mental condition, yet he stays in detention. - Click on picture to view bigger.
The lawyer Mohamed AlTajer  confirmed that he and that some members of the families of these children have seen the marks of beatings and torture suffered by their children during the sessions of their trials. He indicated that this has caused more concern amongst the parents of children on the status of their children.
Marks of torture on the body of Ali Jassim Isa Sarhan (17 years old), sentenced to life imprisonment
Juveniles tried in criminal court instead of juvenile court, with life imprisonment sentences
"Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age" - Article 37, paragraph (A), Convention on the Rights of the Child
While the Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates in article 40 that"States Parties recognize the right of every child, if considered to have infringed the penal law, to have this decision and any measures imposed in consequence thereof reviewed by a higher competent, independent and impartial authority or judicial body according to law," and despite the presence of a competent court to hear cases of juveniles in Bahrain, juveniles older than 15 are being brought before a criminal court rather than the juvenile court [16 ] which is only for those under fifteen years of age. This is incompatible with that article of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was joined and signed by Bahrain, and this is also inconsistent with the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary Detention, who recommended in its report in 2001 to expand the scope of the juvenile court to include minors who are over 15 years but have not yet attained the age of 18 years. This recommendation comes in accordance to international law, which considers anyone under 18 as juvenile.
Although the Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibits imposing a the sentence of life imprisonment on children, the High Criminal Court ruled July 5th, 2010, Isa Ali Isa Sarhan (17 years) to life imprisonment after being convicted with a group of 9 defendants on charges of causing the death of a policeman. There were many doubts in regards to the fairness of this trial, especially considering that the court relied primarily on coerced confessions obtained under torture, in which Isa was one of the victims. The UN Commission on Rights of the Child expressed their regret in 2002 the report of the Government of Bahrain did not refer to any information about the serious claims stated in the reports of other human rights organizations about the use of torture and arbitrary arrest on children under the age of 18. The Commission later recommended that there be an effective investigation in all cases of torture and cruel or inhuman and degrading treatment by police officers and to bring the perpetrators of such violations to justice, in addition to providing full care for the victims of those violations, and to give them adequate compensation and rehabilitation.
Based on the above information, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights recommends the following:
1. The release of all detainees under the age of 18 immediately. Should there be evidence against them of committing any crimes, then they should be prosecuted in accordance to international standards, which provides for a fair trial by international standards, including taking into account that they are children and minors.
2. The prompt investigation, impartially and effectively, in all cases of abductions, enforced disappearances and torture; especially against children and minors, and to bring the perpetrators, those in charge and the implementers of such crimes to justice.
3. To provide full care for the victims of those violations, especially the children and minors, and to give them adequate compensation and necessary rehabilitation.
4. In the case of the necessary detention of persons under the age of eighteen, within the necessary requirements that do not conflict with international standards, this must be done in places of juvenile detention, and should fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Social Affairs and not the Ministry of the Interior or any other security body.
5. To immediately stop the repeated attacks on the villages of Bahrain, especially those involving children and minors.
6. To put the International Convention for the Rights of the Child into practice and implement all the recommendations of the Commission on the Rights of the Child in 2002, which requires amendments to legislation, laws and institutions.
7. To deal with political and social problems through dialogue and through studying the roots of these problems. To deal with these problems within the laws and procedures which comply with the international standards of human rights.
8. Take all necessary measures to ensure that children and minors at risk of detention or trial are not deprived of their right to education and to complete their education so as to ensure a decent future for them away from the deprivation and loss.
Supplement list of names of detained children:
1 Jihad Aqeel AlSari ( 10 years ) Date of Arrest 19/08/2010
2 Ayman Jaffar ( 12 years ) Date of Arrest 13/08/2010
3 Mohammed Ali ( 12 years ) Date of Arrest 31/08/2010
4 Munther Ahmed Mahdi ( 11 years ) Date of Arrest 02/11/2010
5 Ahmed AbdelMahdi Hassan ( 13 years ) Date of Arrest 25/05/2010
6 Mohammed Ameen AbdulHakeem ( 13 years ) Date of Arrest 25/05/2010
7 Mohammed Ahmed AlJubailat ( 13 years ) Date of Arrest 27/08/2010
8 Sayed Mohammed Sayed Jaffar ( 13 years ) Date of Arrest 15/10/2010
9 Ali Juma’a Ebrahim Salman ( 14 years ) Date of Arrest 14/05/2010
10 Abdulla Altaranha ( 14 years ) Date of Arrest 17/05/2010
11 Kumail AlHalwachi ( 14 years ) Date of Arrest 19/05/2010
12 Sadiq Ahmed AlSaeed ( 14 years ) Date of Arrest 18/06/2010
13 Sayed Nuri ( 14 years ) Date of Arrest 27/08/2010
14 Ali Badah ( 14 years ) Date of Arrest 30/08/2010
15 Sayed Hussain Sayed Mustafa ( 14 years ) Date of Arrest 10/10/2010
16 Ammar Hassan Ali AlSitri ( 14 years ) Date of Arrest 20/10/2010
17 Sayed Ali Hadi AlAbbar ( 15 years ) Date of Arrest 15/04/2010
18 Sayed Hussain Sayed Haidar ( 15 years ) Date of Arrest 20/05/2010
19 Ali Mohammed Jaffar ( 15 years ) Date of Arrest 18/06/2010
20 Taleb Ahmed Mahdi ( 15 years ) Date of Arrest 04/09/2010
21 Sayed Yasser Sayed Khalil ( 15 years ) Date of Arrest 19/09/2010
22 Mahmood Radhi Marhoon ( 15 years ) Date of Arrest 17/10/2010
23 Ebrahim Ahmed Ebrahim ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 17/03/2010
24 Mun’em Ahmed AlSadadi ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 17/05/2010
25 Ali Abbas Zuhair ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 17/05/2010
26 Hassan Ali Alshaikh ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 03/06/2010
27 Mohammed Ali Abdullah ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 18/06/2010
28 Sayed Mohammed Sayed Juma’a ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 18/07/2010
29 Mohammed Ali Yousif ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 18/07/2010
30 Hussain Ali Nusaif ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 19/07/2010
31 Mahmood Abdullah Jaffar ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 21/07/2010
32 Hassan Aqeel AlMajed ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 25/08/2010
33 Jassim Abdullah Yousif ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 27/08/2010
34 Mohammed Ali Mahdi Ramadhan ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 29/08/2010
35 Alaa AbdulElah Kamal Marhoon ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 02/09/2010
36 Adel Faisal ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 07/09/2010
37 Mohammed Ashour Altaqi ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 16/09/2010
38 Ali Saad Mohammed ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 01/10/2010
39 Sadiq Khalil AlHaiki ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 04/10/2010
40 Hussain Ebrahim Almuqdad ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 04/10/2010
41 Abdullah Ali Salman ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 08/10/2010
42 Mujtaba ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 08/10/2010
43 Karar Nabeel AlHaiki ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 10/10/2010
44 Sayed Qasim Sayed Mustafa ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 10/10/2010
45 Hussain Alqattan ( 16 years ) Date of Arrest 13/10/2010
46 Isa Ali Isa Sarhan ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 16/03/2009
47 Sayed Sadiq Sayed Ali ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 23/11/2009
48 Maytham Ahmed Abdullah ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 08/05/2010
49 Ali Abbas Ali ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 26/05/2010
50 Abdulla AbdulMahdi Hassan ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 22/07/2010
51 Sayed Mohammed Sayed Ebrahim ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 22/08/2010
52 Abdullah Abdulkareem Milad ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 23/08/2010
53 Sadiq Abdulla AlAlwani ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 29/08/2010
54 Mohammed Alsakran ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 29/08/2010
55 Ammar Abdulghani ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 04/09/2010
56 Mohammed Radhi ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 04/09/2010
57 Mohammed Hameed ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 05/09/2010
58 Mohammed Adel AlHamar ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 07/09/2010
59 Mustafa Alghunami ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 07/09/2010
60 Ali Jassim Ahmed ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 08/09/2010
61 Isa Mohammed Isa ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 09/09/2010
62 Mahmood Abdulmohsen ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 11/09/2010
63 Ali Jaffar Ashour ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 16/09/2010
64 Mahmood Abbas AlAradi ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 16/09/2010
65 Mohammed Jaffar Yahya ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 17/09/2010
66 Ahmed Ali AlOnaisi ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 18/09/2010
67 Mahmood Fadhel AlOraibi ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 21/09/2010
68 Mohammed Fadhel Juma’a ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 21/09/2010
69 Hassan AbdulGhani ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 26/09/2010
70 Hakeem AlOraibi ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 30/09/2010
71 Mohammed Khalil Alhamad ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 04/10/2010
72 Ali Hassan AlSaeed ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 10/10/2010
73 Ali Jawad ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 15/10/2010
74 Hussain Khalil Marhoon ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 18/10/2010
75 Mahmood Mohammed Hassan ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 18/10/2010
76 Ahmed Abdulaziz ( 17 years ) Date of Arrest 15/11/2010
Child subjected to fractures and head wound at the hands of the security forces
3 children under 10 years of age injured from shotgun shrapnel and rubber bullets in AlSamaheej
Little girl sustains injury in AlDair due to violent attack by security forces on her home
Urgent Plea: Dr. AbdulJalil Al Singace alleges torture to Public Prosecution
Video of kidnapping victims
See source Nr. 4
See source Nr. 2
Documented study regarding hostages and detainees in jails of the occupation
Urgent Appeal for releasing the prisoners detained in Iraq prisons
Mothers of detainees plead with officials to disclose place of their sons’ detention
Several requests came from lawyers, including lawyer Mohammed Al-Tajer
See source Nr. 12